Growing up, consistency is one of the hardest things your parents can provide but it’s also one of the best. Specifically, it’s difficult to create traditions that your family grows to look forward to month after month, year after year. Each family succeeds in making their own traditions, however, which shows how important it is.
In my family, my grandmother has a belated holiday party the first Sunday after New Years’ every year. This has been going on for as long as I can remember. Her house is open all day to any family members for as long as they can stay. In many instances, this is the only time we get to see our extended family and catch up on everything that’s happened over the past year. As kids, it gave us a chance to play with cousins we hadn’t seen in forever. As adults, we can catch up on who got married, who’s pregnant, who has had a baby in the past year, and what our kids are up to. It’s been an amazing progression that I’m happy to be part of.
Unfortunately, this year I wasn’t able to make the trip back to New Jersey to be there. I was definitely saddened by this. Even though I’ve been to so many of these get togethers I look forward to them every year. I look forward to seeing how my cousins’ kids have grown and seeing my own peanut interact with her 4th and 5th cousins that she doesn’t see on a regular basis. Not being there this year actually created a void in me. There is also the added knowledge that my grandparents are getting older and I’m not sure how many more of these parties there will be. Hopefully someone will continue the tradition after they are gone (probably my aunt, in all honesty).
Starting out a new family, especially a blended family where we have to alternate holidays with my peanut’s father, is difficult. The great thing about it is that we have a clean slate as far as new traditions go. We can literally make anything our tradition. For instance, Peanut’s school has an early dismissal one day a month for a faculty meeting. There is no after school provided and there are no buses to bring the kids home. We use this opportunity to go to the movies one day a month. It’s our own little date. We look at the previews to plan what to see the following month, she gets the kids’ combo, we usually have the theater to ourselves and can laugh and talk about what’s going on, and then on the way home we talk about our favorite parts. Sometimes T is able to come with us, other times it’s just us girls. The point is, it’s something we both look forward to.
This year we also started what I hope will blossom into a tradition. T’s mom slept over our house on Christmas Eve so that she could be here when Peanut opened her presents. We all made cookies on Christmas Eve that she decorated for Santa, then they went to bed in her room while I patiently waited for everyone to fall asleep so that I could set everything up. In the morning, it was so cute to wake up to the two of them walking around the house checking to see if Santa came, gasping over the “proof” of his arrival (the half eaten cookies, the note I had to write with my non-dominant hand so she wouldn’t recognize my writing, the boot prints by the door), and comparing their conspiracy theories of how he got in and why he left such a mess. When I came into the living room, she looked me in the eye and said, “Mom, we’ve got a mystery.” These are the moments that give my life meaning and I’m so glad my mother-in-law was here to share them. This will have to be one of those every other year traditions because her father and I alternate who gets her for Christmas, but it’s still a tradition worth continuing.
Even just sitting and eating dinner together is a small tradition, and one I enjoy immensely (usually). Of course there is the pressure to make something we haven’t had in a while so we’re not repeating the same meals over and over, but it’s worth it. And there’s the joy of her always having the smallest portion and usually starting to eat before us, but talking so much throughout dinner that she’s always the last one done. One day, though, she won’t want to talk to us, so I’m trying to enjoy it while I can – even on the days I want to rip my heart out.
One of the moms from her class told me that every night as she lays down with her son they go back and forth about both their favorite things that happened that day and their least favorite things. We tried this for a while, but then it became a way for her to talk herself out of going to sleep on time. It’s a tradition I wouldn’t mind starting back up again, though, because it’s a great way to open up the lines of communication.
What traditions do you and your family have? Which ones would you like to start? I can’t wait to hear back from you.
Have a great day!